51:49. All Power Emanates from the People
Fri, June 03, 2005 7 pm CEST, Opening
»If everyone were to act according to his conscience, there would be no end to the chaos or the misery that it would cause. The formal injunction to keep a clear conscience, to act according to ones principles, is not a guideline that does away with all grounds for moral uncertainty. Is there even one infamous action that has not once been committed with a good conscience?«
Max Horkheimer

The fundamental concept behind the 51:49 project is that the idea of »direct democracy« is haunted by justifiable doubts about the referendum as a decision-making method: is it possible to reconcile popular demands for greater citizen involvement with the often unacceptable outcomes and consequences of such exercises?

The aim of the project is to show that the formal correctness of the decision-making process (e.g. by referendum) does not guarantee the correctness of the outcome, which may prove to be counter-intuitive. 51:49 is not then intended as an art exhibition but rather as an illustration of a problem and a visual stimulus to thought. Visitors can take part in a mock referendum about the development of the Messplatz in Karlsruhe, experience the Quantum Mirror installation or explore the ZKM inner courtyards through the levels of a virtual-reality game. In all these instances, in the way it mirrors individual decision-making processes the 51:49 project makes possible the simultaneous expression of different points of view in a common space and thus opens the way to a shared understanding. The 51:49 project is not intended to provide answers or make recommendations – it will have achieved its goal if it creates some sort of »productive uncertainty«.

Exhibition supported by the Karlsruhe City Council With additional support from: Karlsruhe University, HfT Karlsruhe, Hft Stuttgart, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, Müller Systemtechnik GmbH

Project organisers

Klaus Elliger, Wolf-Dietrich Gierth, Uwe Hochmuth, Christina Lindner, Michael Mangold, Barbara Rettenmaier

Project participants

Hans Diebner, Florian Grond, Adolf Mathias, Jan Minar, NelKa e.V., Malte Paetsch, Thomas Pasiek, Per Sterner, David Theis, Martin Walser

Project partners

Jan Dieterle, Prof. Nicholas Fritz, Prof. Detlef Kurt, Müller Systemtechnik GmbH, Prof. Günther Telian, Prof. Alex Wall
Project team

Organization / Institution
Jan Dieterle, Prof. Nicolas Fritz, Prof. Detlef Kurt, Müller Systemtechnik GmbH, Prof. Günther Telian, Prof. Alex Wall